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How much extra time for bigger turkey?


Derek J
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I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year and my wife invited a bunch more people than I expected, so I'm working with a bigger bird this year. I'm using Alton Brown's brined turkey recipe which yielded good results a couple years ago. The recipe calls for a 14 to 16 pound bird with an estimated cooking time 2-2.5 hours. I'll be using a 20 pound bird this year. How much extra cooking time should I budget for the larger bird? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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You have to check internal temp, not go by time alone. You should have a probe thermometer with a remote set to the desired temp.

Some turkeys have denser flesh and take longer for the heat to penetrate to the deepest part of the muscles and the temp can be higher closer to the rib cage - bones do transmit heat.

I have (when catering) roasted two turkeys side by side in the same oven, similar weights (no stuffing) and had one reach the set temp more than half an hour prior to the other one.

If you don't have a thermometer with a remote probe, check the temp in both breast and thigh every half hour after the initial 2 hours.

Check the America's Test Kitchen instructions.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Oven temp/times are not accurate. You need to use a oven thermometer. I have been using a turkey fryer for years. Oil temps are more stable then air in an oven. When using a turkey fryer, the standard time is 3 1/2 - 4 minutes per pound.

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I'm sorry. I wasn't clear. I know to cook until the turkey is done per a thermometer.

I'm trying to figure out a ballpark cooking time so I know what time to put the bird in the oven do that it will be ready by dinner time.

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500 degrees for the first half-hour and then 350 degrees until finished?

Roughly 3 to 3.5 hours total.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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I keep track of turkey times most years when I think of it - here are the notes from MacGourmet - the foil refers to tenting the breast.

2003 9.1 kg fresh turkey took 2 hrs and 20 minutes 400 then to 350
2004 14.5 lb turkey took 3 1/2 hours 400 then 350 then 300. - not convection oven
2004 christmas 17.9 lb frozen took 3 1/2 hours 400 then 325 then back to 350 1 hour before done - convection
2005 Little current - 21 lb fresh from Max Burt's farm 400 turned down immediatly, then 350 for 1.5 hours covered with foil, then uncovered and turned down to 300 after about 1 hour. Took about 4 hours. - not convection
2005 Christmas - 7.2 kg fresh turkey, organic from fortino's 450 for 25 minutes then 350, then 325 took 2 1/2 hours- convection
2006 Thanksgiving (convection) 20.75 lb turkey from Burt Farms 400, turned down to 375 for 30 minutes , then 325 for 3 hours took foil off at 2.5 hours. total 3 1/2 hours

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